Author Topic: Help w/ Windows XPeration  (Read 11104 times)

The Guru

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Help w/ Windows XPeration
« on: April 02, 2014, 05:10:31 AM »
Can someone advise a non-tech-savvy person on the ramifications of Windows ceasing to support its XP operating system?

I have a laptop I bought used 3-4 years ago; my wife's desktop is older than that, so I guess they don't owe us anything...but I'd rather not spring for a new one (laptop's been a great machine; desktop is pretty creaky). Both run XP. I use mine for investment stuff and we both do online banking, so security is important.  We also have a wireless connection if that matters.

Soooo... what are our options? Can we safely muddle by for a while? What are the dangers if we do? I've heard it suggested to switch from IE to Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, though I don't know how that helps. Is a new OS feasible- and if so, which one? (XP has a rep for being user-friendly). Or should I just throw in the towel and get a new machine?

Thanks for any advice!

warfreak2

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2014, 05:20:32 AM »
Soooo... what are our options? Can we safely muddle by for a while?
No. It's practically guaranteed that criminals have been stockpiling exploits, waiting for the day XP goes out of support. Why release a virus or trojan today, when Microsoft might find it and fix the problem, when you can just wait a few weeks and profit from your malware indefinitely?

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I've heard it suggested to switch from IE to Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome
Never use IE, for anything. It has an almost comical history of security flaws.

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Is a new OS feasible- and if so, which one?
Yes. You can almost certainly upgrade to a newer version of Windows without much trouble, or switch to Linux (e.g. Ubuntu), which by now is at least as user-friendly as Windows, and more user-friendly than Windows XP.

arebelspy

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2014, 07:19:24 AM »
If you want to stick with Windows, go with 7 (not 8, definitely not Vista).
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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2014, 07:31:00 AM »
Windows 8 will run in a smaller footprint than 7 or even XP but it is a bit goofy.

I've tried and tried to tell my employers about XP. They seem convinced AVG (the free, non -business license even) will protect them from all exploits. Sigh.

nawhite

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2014, 09:54:00 AM »
Soooo... what are our options? Can we safely muddle by for a while?
No. It's practically guaranteed that criminals have been stockpiling exploits, waiting for the day XP goes out of support. Why release a virus or trojan today, when Microsoft might find it and fix the problem, when you can just wait a few weeks and profit from your malware indefinitely?

This is a really good point. But just to clarify what is going on for those who haven't heard.

Usually, cybersecurity is a cat and mouse game. The hackers release a virus, Microsoft finds the virus, figures out how it breaks things and fixes the problem. Or, Microsoft finds a problem, fixes it and the hackers look at the fix that gets released and say "oh so thats how we hack that." They develop a virus that exploits the bug that has been fixed and release it hoping to get all the people who don't update their operating system (so even if you do upgrade to a different operating system BE SURE TO ALWAYS ALLOW UPDATES).

So what Microsoft is doing is saying "Windows XP is really old, we have better products that people should use. Thus starting April 8th we aren't going to play the security game anymore for it"

So after April 8th, your Windows XP machine will never get another security update. Every time a hacker makes a virus, Microsoft wont release a fix to close the hole. So I agree with warfreak2, you cant safely muddle by for a while. You need to upgrade to something else immediately.

Options:
1) Either upgrade your windows installation and continue using all of the same programs:

Windows 7, $99 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H09BB16/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00H09BB16&linkCode=as2&tag=kayaklines-20

Windows 8, $99 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EDSI7QO/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00EDSI7QO&linkCode=as2&tag=kayaklines-20

2) Or not spend any money and try a linux distribution. You will not be able to use any of the software you have purchased for your windows XP machine (without getting really technical) but there are free alternatives available for almost any task. You can also try most linux distributions for free without changing your computer at all. Use whats called a "Live CD" put it in your computer and reboot. A live CD will not make any changes to your computer but will work as a linux box until you take the CD out and reboot again. If you decide to go Linux full time after trying out the CD, you can usually just double click the "install" icon it will show on the desktop.  Two versions that are usually recommended for Linux Beginners are:

Ubuntu Linux, Free http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop

Mint Linux, Free http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

3) Keep Windows XP, and if you are connected to the internet you will get hacked and have at least your email hacked and possibly your credit card numbers stolen.

Your Choice.

randymarsh

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2014, 10:05:17 AM »
I don't think it's the end of the world if you keep a personal computer on XP for a bit if you practice safe browsing and don't download things when you don't know what they are and run a firewall. I wouldn't recommend it, but the sky is not going to fall either.

I know a lot of people hate 8, but it's not that bad. Windows 8 with the freeware Classic Shell is quite usable. Make sure your machine meets the recommended specs.

sleepyguy

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2014, 10:34:47 AM »
Thought of going LINUX?  They are quite robust now and run the latest browsers (Chrome/Firefox).  Ubuntu and Mint are great for newbies.  I personally use Crunchbang on my older laptops that can't keep up with Win7.

okashira

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2014, 10:44:36 AM »
Windows 8 (esp with new updates 8.1.1 coming out) is great. They got the requirements down to 16GB hard drive and 1GB ram on 8.1.1.

Buy it through your university or have a friend buy it. I got my copy for $20 through my university store, and I'm not even a student. They didn't bother to check.

phred

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 12:22:39 PM »
go to the Microsoft website with each computer.  Download where it says something like 'is my XP computer upgradeable to 8'

Make your decision based on the answer

luigi49

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 12:29:29 PM »
If you want to stick with Windows, go with 7 (not 8, definitely not Vista).

Window 7 is vista with all update.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 02:39:12 PM »
+1 vote for Ubuntu Linux. Switched to it back in '08 and never looked back.

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2014, 02:56:19 PM »
+1 vote for Ubuntu Linux. Switched to it back in '08 and never looked back.

When the hard drive in my wife's MacBook Pro died 6 months ago, I bought a replacement hard drive and was trying to figure out how to put OS X back on it. The only remedy that Apple gave me was to buy Snow Leopard DVD's ($140), then a Lion License ($20), then a Mountain Lion License ($20), and finally update to Mavericks. I told the "Genius" behind the bar he was insane, walked out and put Ubuntu 12.04 on it (for my non-techy wife). She likes it just fine and has never complained about it not being a Mac anymore.

the fixer

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2014, 06:05:30 PM »
If the laptops are old enough then Ubuntu is not a good idea. Try one of the lightweight alternatives like Lubuntu or Xubuntu. Not as user friendly IMO but lightning fast even on old hardware.

In my experience you need more than 2GB RAM to run Ubuntu well.

daverobev

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2014, 07:14:07 PM »
If you want to stick with Windows, go with 7 (not 8, definitely not Vista).

Window 7 is vista with all update.

I just inherited a Vista machine. Specs are ok (Pentium D - I know, not the fastest, but dual core, 2gb RAM). And it runs like a dog, after cleaning it up. I forgot how bad Vista actually is vs 7.

Using 8 on a tablet. A few things are stupid, but it's usable, and very snappy.

For that era machine, Linux Mint or similar might be best. I'm not an Ubuntu fan.

beltim

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2014, 08:21:05 PM »
+1 vote for Ubuntu Linux. Switched to it back in '08 and never looked back.

When the hard drive in my wife's MacBook Pro died 6 months ago, I bought a replacement hard drive and was trying to figure out how to put OS X back on it. The only remedy that Apple gave me was to buy Snow Leopard DVD's ($140), then a Lion License ($20), then a Mountain Lion License ($20), and finally update to Mavericks. I told the "Genius" behind the bar he was insane, walked out and put Ubuntu 12.04 on it (for my non-techy wife). She likes it just fine and has never complained about it not being a Mac anymore.

That's crazy! You can definitely install Mavericks on a blank drive: http://mashable.com/2013/10/23/clean-install-os-x-mavericks/

Really weird that Apple wouldn't do that for you.

nawhite

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2014, 09:29:19 PM »

That's crazy! You can definitely install Mavericks on a blank drive: http://mashable.com/2013/10/23/clean-install-os-x-mavericks/

Really weird that Apple wouldn't do that for you.

It requires a working Mac to do that. I had a brick with a blank hard drive and a windows box. As such, I needed the guys at the Apple store to help and they wouldn't touch my 2008 machine because it was too old. Not to mention even if they did offer support, I wouldn't have expected them to use a random program like "lion diskmaker." I'm sure it works, but it wouldn't have for my situation because I had to mac to run it on.

beltim

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2014, 09:49:33 PM »

That's crazy! You can definitely install Mavericks on a blank drive: http://mashable.com/2013/10/23/clean-install-os-x-mavericks/

Really weird that Apple wouldn't do that for you.

It requires a working Mac to do that. I had a brick with a blank hard drive and a windows box. As such, I needed the guys at the Apple store to help and they wouldn't touch my 2008 machine because it was too old. Not to mention even if they did offer support, I wouldn't have expected them to use a random program like "lion diskmaker." I'm sure it works, but it wouldn't have for my situation because I had to mac to run it on.

Right. Sorry, I didn't mean to say you should have done that. I'm just surprised that Apple wouldn't or didn't have a way to do that.

fantabulous

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2014, 09:54:46 PM »
The idea of switching to Firefox or Chrome is that at least the browser might get security updates for a while. Not up on whether that's actually going to be the case, though.

JamesAt15

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2014, 10:44:42 PM »
It's been discussed recently on a security related podcast I listen to (Security Now on TWiT) that you can greatly reduce your exposure to vulnerabilities by switching your user account to a standard user without admin rights, and just login with admin rights when needed. Couple this with switching off of Internet Explorer to another browser, and your vulnerability profile is much, much smaller.

They referenced this report by this firm Avecto, who analyzed all the security vulnerabilities released in 2013 and determined:

Quote
  • Of the 147 vulnerabilities reported by Microsoft in 2013 with a Critical severity rating, 92% were concluded to be mitigated by removing administrator rights
  • 96% of Critical vulnerabilities affecting Windows Operating Systems could be mitigated by removing admin rights
  • 100% of all vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer in 2013 could be mitigated by removing admin rights

So if you can't or won't upgrade to Windows 7+ or switch to Linux in the short term, you should at least switch to running as a standard user, use a non-IE browser, run a firewall on the machine (like the built-in one from Microsoft) and avoid doing dangerous things (visiting sketchy web sites, downloading pirate software, etc).

gooki

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2014, 03:53:20 AM »
I don't think it's the end of the world if you keep a personal computer on XP for a bit if you practice safe browsing and don't download things when you don't know what they are

This.

jnik

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2014, 05:39:15 AM »
Quote
  • Of the 147 vulnerabilities reported by Microsoft in 2013 with a Critical severity rating, 92% were concluded to be mitigated by removing administrator rights
Which means, on average, you'll go one month before hitting a critical vulnerability that isn't mitigated by removing administrator rights.

Removing administrator rights also does nothing to protect your personal data that's stored in the "every day use" account.

It's going to be possible to run XP with reasonable safety after EOL (I'm keeping a VM around), but my suspicion is that it will require no less tech savvy than switching to something else (upgrade to 7 with necessary hardware upgrades, switch to a free OS...), particularly if it's regularly used for browsing.[/list]

strider3700

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2014, 02:25:41 PM »
I don't think it's the end of the world if you keep a personal computer on XP for a bit if you practice safe browsing and don't download things when you don't know what they are

This.

not necessarily.   if you have no firewall the exploit could be in something that is accessible from the outside.   If you were to take an unpatched XP from 5 years ago and sit it on the internet leave it idle and walk away it would be infected and need wiped within a few hours.    XP should not be used for anything online ever again in a week or so. 

My XP testing box will be retired and replaced with win7.    My main machine will continue to be linux Mint.   mint with the cinnamon interface with the default settings works basically the same as XP.    start menu in the bottom left,   program bar across the bottom.   Colors are different and icons are different is the only big difference.  My non techy wife runs it on a 5 or 6 year old laptop with zero issues as well but it really depends on what you're needing the PC for.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2014, 04:14:37 PM »
I have Mint (Cinnamon) and Windows 7 as a dual boot on my PC. Generally spend more time in 7 because the Spotify desktop client works better than the web player and I use Scrivener for writing, which does not have a Linux version (and is squirrely in WINE).

I won't be buying Windows licenses anymore, but since I already have them, I do find 7 a lot more useful than the various Linux flavors I've tried.

nawhite

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2014, 04:19:03 PM »
If you were to take an unpatched XP from 5 years ago and sit it on the internet leave it idle and walk away it would be infected and need wiped within a few hours.    XP should not be used for anything online ever again in a week or so. 

I actually do just this for work to follow trends in botnets. Our usual stats show about 1500 attempts to exploit a machine within 48 hours. Usually its old, well known viruses that being patched will protect you from. But a couple times a month we see something completely new. The internet is a scary place.

I have Mint (Cinnamon) and Windows 7 as a dual boot on my PC. Generally spend more time in 7 because the Spotify desktop client works better than the web player ...

Spotify has a beta linux player which works in Ubuntu and I believe works in Debian, might be worth checking out for Mint.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #24 on: April 03, 2014, 08:24:39 PM »
If the laptops are old enough then Ubuntu is not a good idea. Try one of the lightweight alternatives like Lubuntu or Xubuntu. Not as user friendly IMO but lightning fast even on old hardware.

In my experience you need more than 2GB RAM to run Ubuntu well.
Nah, my kids' computer has 2GB and it runs Ubuntu desktop just fine, nice and snappy.  Adobe cutting off support for flash player on Linux is a pain, though--I'm stuck on Ubuntu 10.04 until someone comes up with a good replacement for flash.

Daley

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #25 on: April 03, 2014, 08:52:22 PM »
Nah, my kids' computer has 2GB and it runs Ubuntu desktop just fine, nice and snappy.  Adobe cutting off support for flash player on Linux is a pain, though--I'm stuck on Ubuntu 10.04 until someone comes up with a good replacement for flash.

So you know, Flash can be installed and runs fine under Ubuntu 12.04, and the official Chrome browser also has built-in Flash support (you can even transplant the plug-in to Chromium).

the fixer

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2014, 11:13:18 PM »
I'm running flash on Ubuntu 13.10. I think 12.04 ran decently on my 2GB laptop, but not much after that. Firefox is the biggest hog, partially because I run with lots of tabs open, but it seems like it eats up memory over time regardless of how many there are.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2014, 07:44:25 AM »
So you know, Flash can be installed and runs fine under Ubuntu 12.04, and the official Chrome browser also has built-in Flash support (you can even transplant the plug-in to Chromium).
You must have had better luck than I.  I spent a good couple of hours trying to find the right version of Flash that would work (for some reason, Chrome's wouldn't work :\)  I'm still on 10.04--I had major issues with 12.04, and anything with Unity is right out.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2014, 08:04:37 AM »
I have Mint (Cinnamon) and Windows 7 as a dual boot on my PC. Generally spend more time in 7 because the Spotify desktop client works better than the web player and I use Scrivener for writing, which does not have a Linux version (and is squirrely in WINE).

There is a Linux Scrivener version, it's technically still in Beta, but it's free and you just have to upgrade it every 6 months or so... I've been using the native version for a few years now.

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=25201

The Guru

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #29 on: April 04, 2014, 10:54:08 AM »
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to reply!!!

Scandium

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #30 on: April 04, 2014, 03:37:22 PM »
+1 vote for Ubuntu Linux. Switched to it back in '08 and never looked back.
Don't run Ubuntu (with Unity) if it's a weak machine. I tried it on my anemic laptop (an AMD E-350 APU) and it was pretty sluggish. Linux Mint with Cinnamon worked much better, and found Mate to be the best.

And this could just be me but I found Mint to work better out of the box than Lubuntu and Xubuntu when I tried those.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2014, 03:40:04 PM by Scandium »

strider3700

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #31 on: April 04, 2014, 04:12:14 PM »
getting off topic but for those of you needing flash   why?   I don't have it on my mint box and I haven't ever come across something needing it.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Help w/ Windows XPeration
« Reply #32 on: April 04, 2014, 04:49:42 PM »
+1 vote for Ubuntu Linux. Switched to it back in '08 and never looked back.
Don't run Ubuntu (with Unity) if it's a weak machine. I tried it on my anemic laptop (an AMD E-350 APU) and it was pretty sluggish. Linux Mint with Cinnamon worked much better, and found Mate to be the best.

And this could just be me but I found Mint to work better out of the box than Lubuntu and Xubuntu when I tried those.

Ah, you're assuming I'm using the Unity desktop... I'm not, I hate it. I use Gnome or XFCE. Also, Ubuntu Studio comes with XFCE by default.